The Acura RDX isn’t as edgy as it was at first, but it has matured into a comfortable and satisfying premium crossover.
What is it?
As of this May 2016 writing, the 2017 model has already hit the Acura website, and changes from the previous year are mostly trim-related.
Pricing and trims
Since Acura has moved on to putting forward the 2017 model, we’ll use 2017 numbers for our price breakdown.
RDXs start at $35,370 for the base front-wheel drive trim, and there are four trims above base to add the chunks of features you’d want.
All-wheel drive on any trim adds $1,500 to the total. The tested RDX was the top Advance trim with all-wheel drive, and it checked out at $45,400.
Premium features would be one reason you’d choose a luxury crossover over something more mainstream, like the Honda CR-V from which this RDX draws its lineage. This Advance sported niceties like rain-sensing wipers…
…and the front seats were heated and cooled.
AcuraWatch is Acura’s suite of active safety features. It adds $1,300 and includes Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), adaptive cruise control and a color information screen.
Blind spot warnings and rear cross-traffic alerts are separate from AcuraWatch and are included in RDXs with the Technology Package.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the RDX highly in its crash tests. The AcuraWatch-equipped RDX nearly tops the crash avoidance and mitigation ratings, and when the RDX crashes, it appears to crash well.
The first RDX had a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but the current one has a 3.5-liter V6 that’s good for 279 horsepower. It’s everything you’d want, with smoothness and a quick response backing up the strong surge that’s available pretty much whenever you need it.
The transmission is a six-speed automatic, which eschews the more economy-oriented CVT unit employed by the Honda CR-V. Shifts are crisp, and moving the lever to S notably sharpens the transmission’s response.
Ride and handling
Over-the-road composure is one of the RDX’s best aspects. It’s rare to find a Honda product that does not handle with baseline competence, and the RDX’s suspension takes that up a few notches, with its nice blend of firmness and compliance. There’s decent steering feel, and the RDX’s body motions are tightly controlled.
The 18-inch wheels wear high-performance Michelin all-season tires, and they stuck well in our sunny week with the RDX.
The 10-way power driver’s seat that come with the Advance package is grippy like a sport seat, but it’s still broad enough for those who have larger frames. Shoulder support is in ample supply…
…and taller drivers will love the way the bottom cushion tips up for plenty of thigh support. Being able dial yourself in so thoroughly enhances the RDX’s sporty feel.
Rear seats are roomy and accommodating. They don’t recline as the rear seats in the cheaper Honda CR-V do, but the RDX’s 38 inches of legroom rival that of a large sedan’s.
The rear floor is nearly flat, which adds to the impression of roominess.
There’s less space in the back an Acura RDX when compared to a Honda CR-V: he RDX has 26.1 cubic feet of space, while the CR-V has 37.2 cubic feet.
Fold down the rear seats, and the RDX expands that number to 61.3, which is smaller than the nearly 71 inches available in the CR-V.
The seats fold down easily with a flick of the levers on the side panels, and the area is beautifully finished – maybe almost too beautifully, as it may not take long for the light-grey carpeting to become marked up with use.
There’s an actual spare tire under the cargo floor, along with narrow trays for very small items.
The Advance has a power-operated tail gate, and it adds a second pull-down handle.
Infotainment and controls
The RDX’s double-screen setup will be familiar to anyone who’s driven a Honda in the last few years, and Acura thankfully continues to supply a knob to control the sound system, which Honda-branded cars have been deleting.
Hard buttons that allow you to move through the main functions – navigation, phone, audio, etc. – and the big center knob is a boon when moving through those screen functions. It becomes familiar enough that you can operate much of it with only a brief look away from the road ahead.
The Acura RDX started in the late-2000s as a stiff-riding crossover with a turbocharged engine. This newest V6-equipped RDX is very different by comparison, with a calmer and more refined feel.
As something is gained, something else can be lost, and the edgy personality of that first RDX is distilled down to something more palatable for mainstream crossover buyers. That’s a tough balance for Acura, as it aims to appeal broadly while still coming across with a compelling message of power and performance.
But buyers are liking what they see. Last year, the RDX set a single-year sales record, and the RDX is still hot, and it is handily outselling the Lexus NX. We’d like to see a little more personality in the driving experience, but there’s no question of the appeal of the RDX’s total package.
Shopping for a new or used Acura RDX? Check out BestRide.com’s local search here.
2016 Acura RDX AWD Advance
Base price: $44,460
Price as tested: $45,400 (including $940 destination charge)
- Powerful engine, slick-shifting transmission
- Exceptionally comfortable front seats
- Easy-to-use technology features
- Mild driving personality
- Selective availability of AcuraWatch active-safety features